This week I went to see Blackbird, a Canadian indie flick, produced by my buddy Marc Almon. The film was shot in three weeks in Nova Scotia, and deals with the issue of teen bullying and school violence.
Let me preface this review by saying I am not normally a very discerning movie goer. In university I worked at an art house theatre in Calgary in marketing and never once walked downstairs to actually watch one of the movies I designed the ads for. How sad is that?
I’ll be honest. Lining up for tickets I was tempted to buy tickets for The Great Gatsby or Star Trek, since that’s what everyone else seemed to be buying their tickets for. But I bought my Blackbird ticket and purchased my carbs and wandered into the empty theatre. When the opening sequence rolled there were a dozen other theatregoers watching with me.
From the very first scene I was enthralled. Goth kid Sean Randall (played by the Justin Bieber-ish looking Connor Jessup) is being arrested for planning to stage a school shooting after being bullied by schoolmates. His love interest Deanna Roy (a puck bunny played by Alexia Fast) is fantastic. I recognized her instantly from Reacher (a terrible slaughter by Tom Cruise of Lee Child’s beloved Jack Reacher character). The movie tells us Sean’s story, from being raised in a broken home and subsequently being kicked out to live with his dad by his mom’s new husband to his time in a juvenile detention facility as he awaits his fate.
Other than the rural setting and east coast accents, this doesn’t feel like a “Canadian” movie. It was compelling, intense, and funny too. At three separate points in the film my heart was literally racing, blood pounding in my ears as I held my breath and waited for the resolution to the immediate decision or action. I can’t remember the last time I had such a visceral reaction to a movie.
Blackbird in only in theatres for a short while, and I’m hoping it comes out on DVD soon. I’ll be adding it to my collection and when my kids are old enough, watching it with them as a starting point for discussions on violence, bullying and choices.